Jang Geun-seok and 2PM guaranteed to be a success by rich “meat-eater females” in Japan.
On May 31, outside the Budokan, an indoor arena in central Tokyo, Japan, was crowded with women in their 20s-40s. These females were fans of the Korean boy group 2PM who came to see their concert. When asked why they like 2PM, they replied in unison, “Because they’re manly”. When asked if there’s any Japanese group like 2PM, they replied, “No”.
Two days later, there was a SHINee concert at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, an arena in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan. Although they debuted in Japan less than a year ago, as many as 12,000 tickets were sold out. “SHINee can dance and sing, but more importantly they make us want to protect them. And it’s cute when they try very hard to speak in Japanese though they’re not used to it”, said Saeko Kitamura, 23.
More than 95 percent of the fans who came to both of the concerts were females. As of the age group, the majority of 2PM‘s fans were in their 20s-40s while SHINee’s were in their 10s-30s. Both of the groups are still “new”, when considered they’ve worked in Japan for less than two years. So why is it that they could become a huge success in Japan?
”Ten years ago those in their 40s and up were main consumers of Korean products, but recently females in their 10s and 20s are turning their attention to K-pop groups”, said Kim Hyun-oak, 39, who has been living in Tokyo for 15 years and also in a doctoral program (Ph.D program) in political science at the graduate school of the University of Tsukuba. “The female meat-eater phenomenon in young Japanese women is influencing considerably”.
Female meat-eater is a Japanese term for women who are active and have noticeable forward tendency when dating.On the other hand, “vegetarian male” refers to males who are passive and have feminine tendencies. “The growth in women’s economic power and decline in men’s economic power created the phenomenon”, she said. “As a result, Korean celebrities who are dynamic such as Jang Geun-seok, 2PM and SHINnee are popular”.
Even though there isn’t any studies done to prove that the increase in female meat-eater led to K-pop singers’ popularity, it isn’t hard to guess that the growth in Japanese women’s economic power and popularity of K-pop are related.
According to the White Paper on Children and Infant Care published by the Japanese government recently, one out of 10 women aged 50 years or younger have never been married, an all-time high. According to 2011 Labor Statistics by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, a growing number of women have been participating in economic activity with the rate posted at 63.2 percent in 2010. It can be interpreted that K-pop idols success in performance Japan is partially because of the desire of economically powerful women for pop culture.As ‘lost 20 years’ represents, the growth of K-pop is worthy of close attention in contrast to to the economic slowdown in Japan. According to Oricon, Japanese music charts, three Korean singers have been ranked in top 10 in terms of revenue– Kara at fourth place with 4.9 billion yen, Girls’ Generation at fifth with 4 billion yen and TVXQ at ninth with 2.6 billion yen.
In Japan, SM Entertainment management agency of renowned TVXQ, Girls’ Generation and Super Junior – earned 17,542 million won during the first quarter of this year, up 345.7 percent from a year earlier. Main Korean entertainment agencies started implementing aggressive market strategy in the Japanese market for its benefits such as higher unit price of concerts and albums, better copyright system and suprior fan’s loyalty.
2PM in JYP Entertainment is seeking glocalization strategy by appearing in Japanese TV and Wonder Girls resumed performance in Korea while targeting the Japanese market. Some experts, however, say that the popularity of K-pop in Japan is not a main stream, but rather partial power of cultural content. “It would be right to say that glocalization strategy of individual content is coming to fruition rather than K-pop category is becoming larger in Japan”, said Jung Uk, the chief executive officer of JYP Entertainment.
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